orientation

9 New Members Who Previously Served at the Pleasure of a President
Newcomers to 116th Congress bring bevy of executive branch experience

There’s a group of new members of the 116th Congress who have served former presidents, including Reps.-elect Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., and Colin Allred, D-Texas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of newcomers to Capitol Hill is bringing experience from the executive branch to the 116th Congress. 

They draw from a cast of former White House or Cabinet staffers and high-ranking officials from the administrations of the past two Democratic presidents. These new members, who once had to defend their administration’s policies, now find themselves on the other side of the table, promising oversight of the executive branch. 

Rep.-Elect Ben Cline Wins Raucous Office Lottery
Incoming Congress does the floss, impersonates Oprah at biennial tradition

Rep.-elect Ben Cline, R-Va., is seen after drawing number 1 during the new member room lottery draw for office space in Rayburn Building on November 30, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It got raucous in the Rayburn Building on Friday as Virginia Republican Ben Cline pulled the lucky number during a lottery for incoming members of Congress. The reward was a coveted one: first choice of office space. 

Packed with 85 freshmen, plus their staff and press, the room erupted when Cline pulled the top number, giving him his pick of available office suites. He flashed a big smile as he turned around to face the crowd.

High-Stakes Lottery Will Land New Members in Capitol Hill Offices
While many newly elected say they are just happy to be here, choice real estate is at stake

Members-elect will draw chips Friday to determine which office space they’ll get for next year. Two years ago, Lisa Blunt Rochester, seen here, was fairly pleased with her number. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Every two years, the office lottery that closes out new member orientation becomes a delicate game of chance that will determine who gets choice workspace — and who must toil in the congressional badlands.

Each newly elected House member will take their chance and pick a numbered chip as they’re called by their last names in alphabetical order. The traditional room lottery draw is run by the Architect of the Capitol House Superintendent’s Office and kicks off at 10:30 a.m. on Friday. The chip number corresponds to the order in which they can choose an office.

Defeated Rep. Bruce Poliquin Calls for Lengthy Ranked Choice Recount
The Maine Republican would be required to personally foot the bill

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine, would have to overcome a more than 3,500 vote deficit in a lengthy recount to maintain his seat. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ranked-choice voting has a dedicated foe in defeated Rep. Bruce Poliquin

The Maine Republican called for a hand recount of ballots cast in the race for the 2nd District — the first election in the nation to use ranked-choice voting to fill a congressional seat — decrying the software used to allocate voters’ preferences as a “black-box voting system.”

Selfies on the Floor: Members-Elect Break the Rules While They Still Can

Members-elect took tons of selfies in the House chamber, breaking the rules before they're bound by them. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Freshman orientation has been full of selfies as the newly elected members of the 116th Congress get to know their classmates and surroundings on Capitol Hill. But many have been breaking a well-known House rule against photos in the House chamber.

At least eight incoming House members posted selfies in the House chamber to their social media accounts on Tuesday. Maybe the newcomers haven’t been briefed on the rules of decorum in the House, or maybe they got a pass during the exciting orientation tours.  

New Members of Congress Hit the Books in DC
It’s just like college, but with more catering

Newly elected members of the 116th Congress arrive in Washington today for new member orientation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Freshly elected faces will descend on Washington on Tuesday for the start of their congressional orientation, including a new session on workplace rights on Capitol Hill. If past years are any indication, they’ll be eating tens of thousands of dollars of food.

Lunches, tours and briefings will pack the agenda, and winners from around the country will mix and mingle like freshmen on a college campus. It will be their first taste of life as a member of Congress, from interacting with media to forging relationships with their future colleagues.

Opinion: To Filibuster or Not to Filibuster
The American public wants government to act

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer admits that the filibuster rule change instituted by former Democratic leader Harry Reid made it more difficult for his party to oppose President Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

To filibuster or not to filibuster. That is the question and only Senate Democrats can supply an answer. The choice is clear. More uncertainty for the country and putting economic growth at risk — or a willingness to accept compromise neither side may like but both can live with.

Yet a government shutdown looms once again, the markets are rattled and frustration is rising — especially for House Republicans who have sent bill after bill to the Senate only to have Democrats block consideration.

Congress’ Gun Massacre Caucus
Dealing with mass shootings is becoming all too familiar for many members

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, center left, with Rep. Mark Sanford to his right and then-Gov. Nikki Haley, second from right, attend a memorial service commemorating the anniversary of the 2015 mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images file photo)

On Dec. 14, 2012, Elizabeth Esty was attending a social media workshop for new members of Congress at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She had been elected to represent Connecticut’s 5th District a month earlier.

“I raised my hand and I said, ‘Here’s an example right now — I’m getting texts and alerts that there’s been a shooting and we don’t know what happened,’” she said.

An Immigrant’s Path to Congress: Ruben Kihuen’s First Year in Photos
Roll Call looks at the Nevada Democrat’s journey from the campaign trail to D.C.

OCT. 19, 2016: Ruben Kihuen, then a Democratic candidate for Nevada’s 4th District, shakes hands with demonstrators in front of the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas during the Culinary Union’s Wall of Taco Trucks protest — the day of the final presidential debate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Every two years, a new crop of freshmen descends on Washington and every two years, Roll Call follows one such member through their first year. 

For the 2016 election, Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen was one of only several Democrats to unseat a House Republican. His story is similar to those of millions of Americans — his family came to the U.S. seeking a better life — but on Nov. 8, 2016, he became the first formerly undocumented person to be elected to Congress (along with New York Democratic Rep. Adriano Espaillat, who was elected the same day). Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Kihuen’s dreams of playing professional soccer were dashed by an untimely injury. It was then that he turned his attention to politics. 

What It Costs to Educate New Members of Congress
Recent House disbursement report includes total for fall orientation, though number could grow

Newly elected Minnesota Rep. Jason Lewis arrives at the Capitol Hill Hotel in November 2016 — the day freshman members checked in for orientation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As empty nesters know, getting a freshman prepared for college can be expensive.

The same goes for a freshman in Congress.